Doug Manchester made the biggest splash in his short tenure as publisher of U-T San Diego when the newspaper published a front-page, full-color editorial in January promoting a new Chargers stadium as part of a waterfront mega development at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal downtown.

Promoting the project, the editorial said, would become the newspaper’s No. 1 priority. Since then, the paper and the Unified Port of San Diego, which controls the terminal, have entered into the equivalent of open warfare.

But on Thursday morning, Manchester said he believed the Chargers had a better option for their stadium than his “priority No. 1.” The team, he said at a breakfast Q-and-A session at San Diego State University, could keep playing in Mission Valley at a stadium that could be refurbished at a fraction of the cost.

“If you give me $200 million,” Manchester said, “and I’ll fix Qualcomm Stadium.”

Manchester said he’s spoken to Chargers President Dean Spanos about rehabbing Qualcomm, instead of building a new facility that could cost more than $1 billion. At the breakfast, Manchester was responding to a questioner who was extolling the virtues of the Qualcomm site.

“You’re preaching to the choir here,” Manchester said. “I have been talking about that all along.”

“The shortest distance between two points, you’re right on, is the fact to keep it where it is,” he said. “I’ve said that. I’ve said that to Dean. But there is a lot of problems associated with that.”

Manchester didn’t elaborate much on the problems surrounding a Qualcomm rehab. And Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani couldn’t be reached for comment.

When a group of architects floated the same idea last year, both Fabiani and Darren Pudgil, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, said thoughts of rehabbing Qualcomm were outdated. They cited reports commissioned by the city and the team that said a renovation would be costly and difficult. The current preferred stadium site is an 11-acre parcel in East Village.

Manchester, however, is one of the biggest Chargers boosters in town and the only developer in town with a newspaper. If his numbers are even in the ballpark, it raises an interesting question: If it only costs a few hundred million dollars to rehab Qualcomm satisfactorily, why are the team and the newspaper pushing for hundreds of millions more in public funding to build a new stadium?

Manchester ended the section of the Q-and-A by saying he deferred to the Chargers on whether to build a new stadium or rehab Qualcomm. He also joked about the team’s on-field collapse earlier this week.

“I’m not the owners of the Chargers,” Manchester said. “And you gotta respect the fact that they look at it probably more carefully than you and I am. They want a new stadium, and I just think that we should try to do we possibly can to accommodate keeping the Chargers here in San Diego, notwithstanding last Sunday, or Monday.”

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

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    This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, Community, Economy, Mayoral Election Issues 2014, News
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    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

    32 comments
    Jason Lindquist
    Jason Lindquist subscribermember

    If you ever go behind the scenes at Qualcomm Stadium, you'll find it fantastically decrepit. $200M sounds like a down payment on repairing just what's eroding away underneath.

    jason74
    jason74

    If you ever go behind the scenes at Qualcomm Stadium, you'll find it fantastically decrepit. $200M sounds like a down payment on repairing just what's eroding away underneath.

    Greg Scott
    Greg Scott subscriber

    I don't believe the objections to rehabbing the original site. In the absolutely worst case you could raze the existing structure and start from scratch. Now all objections about what you can't do are gone. Plus you have existing infrastructure, roadways, utilities, a level site to boot.

    Greg Scott
    Greg Scott

    I don't believe the objections to rehabbing the original site. In the absolutely worst case you could raze the existing structure and start from scratch. Now all objections about what you can't do are gone. Plus you have existing infrastructure, roadways, utilities, a level site to boot.

    Michael Aguirre
    Michael Aguirre subscriber

    We need to move road, sidewalk, and alley repair, construction of a city-wide water recycling program, and a shift to alternative energy at the top of our infrastructure agenda. This will help to create jobs, support economic growth, and provide utility for our business and homes. We have to move beyond stadiums and convention centers and focus on capital improvements that serve the general welfare. Our public policy decision makers need to evaluate the use of public funds using advanced project evaluation analytical tools to score the alternatives by the criteria of which serves the greatest good for the greatest number.

    MichaelAguirre
    MichaelAguirre

    We need to move road, sidewalk, and alley repair, construction of a city-wide water recycling program, and a shift to alternative energy at the top of our infrastructure agenda. This will help to create jobs, support economic growth, and provide utility for our business and homes. We have to move beyond stadiums and convention centers and focus on capital improvements that serve the general welfare. Our public policy decision makers need to evaluate the use of public funds using advanced project evaluation analytical tools to score the alternatives by the criteria of which serves the greatest good for the greatest number.

    Akamai
    Akamai

    Have we all gone mad?

    Mandy Barre
    Mandy Barre subscriber

    I am 100% with folks who say Manchester does NOT get public funding! If he wants his name on the darn thing, let him fund it and quit buying up legitimate newspapers for his own bully pulpit!

    Mandy Bear
    Mandy Bear

    I am 100% with folks who say Manchester does NOT get public funding! If he wants his name on the darn thing, let him fund it and quit buying up legitimate newspapers for his own bully pulpit!

    Bruce Higgins
    Bruce Higgins subscriber

    Why should we give any money to what is a private money making enterprise? If this is such a good idea, raise money on the equity markets and proceed. Public money should be reserved for fixing the pension mess, city streets and other public services, not making a rich man richer.

    Bruce Higgins
    Bruce Higgins

    Why should we give any money to what is a private money making enterprise? If this is such a good idea, raise money on the equity markets and proceed. Public money should be reserved for fixing the pension mess, city streets and other public services, not making a rich man richer.

    Lawrence Redner
    Lawrence Redner subscriber

    Re-habbing Qualcom, although better idea, will never happen. That's because the secret of the NFL is that the NFL big-wigs are not in the football business; they are in the football STADIUM BUILDING business.

    DYNAZOR
    DYNAZOR

    Re-habbing Qualcom, although better idea, will never happen. That's because the secret of the NFL is that the NFL big-wigs are not in the football business; they are in the football STADIUM BUILDING business.

    Jon Aldridge
    Jon Aldridge subscriber

    I think Mr. Manchester's ONLY priority as the owner of his U-T San Diego "newspaper" he now puts out should be to make it as good, unbaised and interesting as possible and not making it into a right wing Doug Manchester journal. From everything i've seen since he took over the paper is that he probably bought it because of greed. To turn it into another avenue to getting more power to get his wishes done.

    Jon Aldridge
    Jon Aldridge

    I think Mr. Manchester's ONLY priority as the owner of his U-T San Diego "newspaper" he now puts out should be to make it as good, unbaised and interesting as possible and not making it into a right wing Doug Manchester journal. From everything i've seen since he took over the paper is that he probably bought it because of greed. To turn it into another avenue to getting more power to get his wishes done.

    Allen Carter
    Allen Carter subscriber

    After the 78 million dollar stadium renovation in 1997, Spanos was happy...until a few years later when he saw Moores get his deal. It's all about the downtown real estate tied up with that shiny new stadium.

    alnc
    alnc

    After the 78 million dollar stadium renovation in 1997, Spanos was happy...until a few years later when he saw Moores get his deal. It's all about the downtown real estate tied up with that shiny new stadium.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    All Manchester's biggest projects have always started with the words "Give me".. Who originally gave him control of Navy Field which he parleyed into long term leases to build his waterfront hotels and make his fortune? What back room deal got him title to land that was ownded by the federal government? Why haven't local journalists ever addressed this question?

    Don Wood
    Don Wood

    All Manchester's biggest projects have always started with the words "Give me".. Who originally gave him control of Navy Field which he parleyed into long term leases to build his waterfront hotels and make his fortune? What back room deal got him title to land that was ownded by the federal government? Why haven't local journalists ever addressed this question?

    Rick Tripp
    Rick Tripp subscriber

    It would be my pleasure to provide the $200,000,000. Please contact me to discuss the project prior to me providing proof of funding.

    Rick Tripp
    Rick Tripp

    It would be my pleasure to provide the $200,000,000. Please contact me to discuss the project prior to me providing proof of funding.

    Dianne Parham
    Dianne Parham subscriber

    I guess the term "competitive bidding" doesn't apply to Manchester. Yes, let's just take his word for it because there is not one else in San Diego who could do the job, if anyone wants the job done. I'm really tired of Manchester being assumed to be the only game in town just because he is buying up the place.

    dialyn
    dialyn

    I guess the term "competitive bidding" doesn't apply to Manchester. Yes, let's just take his word for it because there is not one else in San Diego who could do the job, if anyone wants the job done. I'm really tired of Manchester being assumed to be the only game in town just because he is buying up the place.

    Paul Girard
    Paul Girard subscribermember

    What does it mean to "rehab" Qualcomm"? Fixing the leaks and seating? What about the NFL concern about seating capacity. Didn't they say there would never be a Superbowl in Qualcomm because it is too small?

    FriendOfArtsTix
    FriendOfArtsTix

    What does it mean to "rehab" Qualcomm"? Fixing the leaks and seating? What about the NFL concern about seating capacity. Didn't they say there would never be a Superbowl in Qualcomm because it is too small?

    Dianne Parham
    Dianne Parham subscriber

    The man is about to buy up another newspaper chain and he wants $20 million of public money to do us the big favor of renovating Qualcomm? When are we going to stop funding this man?

    dialyn
    dialyn

    The man is about to buy up another newspaper chain and he wants $20 million of public money to do us the big favor of renovating Qualcomm? When are we going to stop funding this man?

    Bill Mitchell
    Bill Mitchell subscriber

    I don't often agree with Doug Manchester, but he has the right idea here. New Orleans spent $320 million to rehab the Superdome. Some of the money was to repair Katrina damage. New Orleans has the 2013 Super Bowl. On location alone Qualcom is well worth consideration for rehab.

    oceanbill
    oceanbill

    I don't often agree with Doug Manchester, but he has the right idea here. New Orleans spent $320 million to rehab the Superdome. Some of the money was to repair Katrina damage. New Orleans has the 2013 Super Bowl. On location alone Qualcom is well worth consideration for rehab.

    Tammy Tran
    Tammy Tran subscriber

    $200M is about the right price, if Papa Doug could rehab Qualcomm Stadium and make it a lot more beautiful than now.

    TammyT
    TammyT

    $200M is about the right price, if Papa Doug could rehab Qualcomm Stadium and make it a lot more beautiful than now.


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